PM Modi tweets out Smriti Irani's speech
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted the link to Union minister Smriti Irani's speech in the Lok Sabha where she took on the opposition over Rohith Vemula's suicide and the JNU row. Irani made an emotionally charged speech in the Lok Sabha on 24 February, after facing off with Mayawati in the Rajya Sabha over Vemula's death. She also defended the government's position on JNU.
The BJP government decided upon an offensive strategy to ensure a smooth budget session of parliament. BJP MPs in both Houses had placed their request for a discussion on the Afzal Guru-JNU incident, so that all outstanding issues are addressed to ensure effective legislative proceedings in the session. BJP sources also hinted that PM Modi himself may step into the debate in Parliament.
Students of Jawaharlal Nehru University held an event to commemorate the hanging of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, where they allegedly resorted to anti-national sloganeering. The government responded by charging those responsible with sedition. The opposition criticized the government's approach stating that it was undemocratic and that government was suppressing dissent. The issue has since become the subject of nationwide debate over government policies.
In parliament, Irani read out posters and slogans used in JNU against India, questioning Afzal Guru death penalty, pointing out the anti-national tone. She pointed out students who shouted slogans praising Yaqub Memon, accused of orchestrating the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai. Irani named all the students mentioned in the JNU report and said it was the university report that found them guilty.
Rohith Chakravarti Vemula was an Indian PhD student at the University of Hyderabad, belonging to the Dalit minority. He committed suicide after the university allegedly stopped paying his fellowship of Rs.25,000 and expelled him from the hostel. The issue turned into a casteist debate after opposition parties accused the HRD Department, which governs central universities, of mishandling the case due to his minority status.
Irani stated her ministry had no role in Vemula's death and pointed out that the executive council that suspended Rohith was appointed by the UPA government. She also accused the Telangana government of playing politics over the death of a child. She targeted Rahul Gandhi stating that he was politicizing the incident and had not checked his facts before accusing the BJP.
The Congress and the Left along with other opposition parties refused to pay heed to Irani's speech and staged a walk-out while the parliament was in session.